Research Fellows Directory
Dr David Thomson
University of Southampton
Modern society has become heavily reliant on ICT systems. There are many data hungry applications that are reliant on systems which can support huge bandwidths of data such as cloud computing, internet of things, ultra-high definition video on demand, biological and weather modelling etc… Such systems handle data largely in an electrical form, however, not only does this lead to staggeringly large amounts of power usage (ICT systems in total now use 10% of the world’s total electricity generation) there are limits to how quickly many functions can be performed. For example, electrical data can only be transmitted a certain distance before the signal is degraded beyond recognition, and that distance decreases with increasing data rate. A leading to solution to overcome these limitations is to perform the functions in the optical domain. A superior amount of data can be transmitted optically over much longer distances with less signal degradation and dissipation of energy. Optical technology has already successfully displaced electrical technology in other application areas but the components used in these cases are based in exotic photonic materials and are therefore expensive. In high density, shorts reach applications such as computing costs must be kept to a minimum to be feasible.
Silicon photonics is an attractive technology for such applications since components can be made with low cost like CMOS electronics. In this project, research is performed to realise data handling functionality required in silicon based photonic technology. A range of ground breaking functional devices are being developed including, high speed, low power optical data links, low power tuning techniques, optical switching and routing networks as well data processing and storage.
Such developments would have a significant impact on the performance of ICT systems, allowing society to benefit from enhancements in application performance and capability.